François-Xavier Roth: General Music Director of the City of Cologne

(c)Holger Talinski

François-Xavier Roth is one of the most charismatic and enterprising conductors of his generation. His repertoire ranges from music of the seventeenth century to contemporary work encompassing all genres: symphonic, operatic and chamber.
In 2003, he founded Les Siècles, an innovative orchestra performing contrasting and colourful programmes on modern and period instruments, often within the same concert. From 2011-2016 François-Xavier Roth led the SWR Sinfonieorchester Freiburg & Baden-Baden as Principal Conductor; since September 2015 he is General Music Director of the City of Cologne, leading both the Gürzenich-Orchestra and the Opera. This season, he takes up the position of Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestera.


»A restlessly intelligent maverick« The Guardian

With a reputation for inventive programming, his incisive approach and inspiring leadership are valued around the world. He is working with leading orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic and Staatskapelle, Royal Concertgebouw and Boston Symphony Orchestra. François-Xavier Roth's third Cologne opera season features new productions of Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser and Die Soldaten by Bernd Alois Zimmermann, marking the centenary of the composer's birth in Cologne.

»Under Roth's needle-sharp direction these interpretations dazzle (…) with rhythmic verve, insouciant accentuation, energy, humour and elan. Virtuosity and verve shine from every bar.« Richard Morrison, The Times

His numerous recordings amongst other with Les siècles (with whom he was awarded a German Record Critics’ Prize in 2016 for their recording of The Rite of Spring), the London Symphony Orchestra and the SWR Sinfonieorchester Freiburg & Baden-Baden are widely acclaimed. In November 2017, Mahler's 5th Symphony was released as his first recording together with the Gürzenich Orchestra. With the Gürzenich Orchestra, he continues a focus on the composer Philippe Manoury, from whom the orchestra has commissioned a trilogy of works and from whom the orchestra will also conduct a world premiere of a Flute Concerto in July 2018. Tours will lead him with the Gürzenich Orchestra this season to Strasbourg, Madrid, Saragossa and Amsterdam. 

Outreach projects, like last season’s project “Planeten” with young dancers and the orchestra of the Rheinische Musikschule or the project “CityLife” with artists of the Cologne electronic label Kompakt and "Fluchtwege" with the Persian singer Shahin Najafi, are an important aspect of François-Xavier Roth’s work. The Gürzenich Orchestra’s “ohrenauf!” education programme recently received the Junge Ohren Award – also in acknowledgment of Roth’s constant support and dedication. He is conductor of the ground-breaking LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme and, with the Festival Berlioz and Les Siècles, he founded the Jeune Orchestre Européen Hector Berlioz, an orchestra-academy with its own collection of period instruments. He is also strongly committed to the newly established orchestra-academy of the Gürzenich Orchestra. Roth and Les Siècles devised Presto!, their own television series for France 2, attracting weekly audiences of over three million.

»Reviews of François-Xavier Roth’s regularly praised recordings in our pages all hint at one thing: there’s never anything routine about his approach, the sound or the vision.« Mark Cullingford, The Gramophone

For his achievements as musician, conductor, music director and teacher, François-Xavier Roth was created a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur on Bastille Day 2017.